Better The Listening … International Women’s Day 2019

19 March 2020
Written By Jenny Ellis, Marketing Manager VJ Technology
Today is International Women’s Day (IWD) and this year’s theme of ‘Better the balance, better the world’ is really exciting to me as it’s not only focusing on women and the challenges we face, it’s talking about a balanced world for everyone, which is how it should be.

International Women’s Day was first recognised in March 1911 and since then has come to represent the fight for peace and fairness for all and that’s a theme that should never end – unless we actually achieve world peace and equality for all of course! Thankfully, IWD now belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. It’s not country, group or organization specific.

I agree that balance is not a women's issue, it's a business issue. It’s a social issue. It’s about us all working to achieve a gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage... Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive.

For me, gender balance isn’t about us all being able to do the same things equally, it’s about recognising our differences and respecting them for what they are and the benefits they can bring. We’re all different and that’s what makes the world so interesting and exciting.

The IWD website highlights a quote from Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist who once explained "The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights." I couldn’t agree more.

When thinking about writing this piece I found myself trying to think of famous women I’m inspired by and, after quite a while, no one automatically sprang to mind. I realised that I actually take my inspiration from those around me in my family, friends and colleagues. And that’s not just women either. I’ve met so many amazing men and women who inspire me to be a better person and a stronger woman.

I’ve worked in construction for nearly 5 years now and in that time I’ve seen a positive shift in terms of the industry opening up to the benefits and strengths that an increasingly diverse workforce can bring. It’s great that organisations such as Women into Construction exist to provide bespoke support to women wishing to work in the construction industry and assisting contractors to recruit highly motivated and trained women who will help to reduce skills gaps and create a more gender-equal work-force.

In addition to this, the conversation continues to ramp up with the Women in Construction Summit in May, which brings industry leaders together to share best practice and learn from empowering woman to drive the conversation towards creating a better and more balanced future.

Of course, we need to keep talking about these issues, keep pushing the boundaries, and keep challenging social stereotypes, but one of the main things I think we all need to keep doing is listening. We all have a voice and we all want it heard but if we’re all so busy talking over each other, how will we hear what we’re all trying to say? Taking a moment to hear the other person’s point of view is surely the only way we can all start to learn and move forward?

If I’m going to finish with a famous quote from an inspirational woman, then it has to be this: “I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” — Maya Angelou